In 2016, the San Francisco Building Code (“Code”) was amended to require that the façades of certain buildings of five or more stories be inspected periodically by a licensed architect or engineer and that a Façade Inspection and Maintenance Report (“Report”) be submitted to the owner and the Department of Building Inspection (“DBI”). The Code requires the maintenance of façades in accordance with an Administrative Bulletin based on a national standard. The intent of the program is to identify current unsafe conditions that could jeopardize public safety if façade elements fall onto streets and sidewalks below. It is also intended to identify conditions that could deteriorate into unsafe conditions before the next inspection.
The requirements apply to Type I, II, III, and IV buildings. Buildings of other construction types and fewer than five stories may voluntarily comply. For inspection of buildings considered to be historic resources, the qualified professional must have expertise in structural inspection and maintenance of historic resources. Reports are to be submitted based on the schedule below, and then at least every 10 years thereafter. Reports for inspections and maintenance work conducted within 10 years of the deadline satisfy the reporting requirement. Buildings constructed under a permit submitted after January 1, 1998 are exempt from having to conduct an initial inspection, but are required to begin periodic inspections 30 years from the issuance of the Certificate of Final Completion for the building.
Where a building experiences significant damage due to earthquake, weather, or the passage of time, an inspection must be done within 60 days of discovery of the damage, in addition to immediate action to address the damage. Significant damage includes items that have fallen from a building or items that have cracked or dislodged to become potential falling hazards.
It is important to note that buildings built before 1910 were required to submit Reports by December 31, 2021. DBI has alerted the public that in order to avoid penalties, property owners should get started with Reports right away. The next deadlines are as follows:
- Buildings built between 1910 and 1925: December 31, 2023
- Buildings built between 1926 and 1970: December 31, 2025
- Buildings built after 1970: December 31, 2027
Reports may be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to DBI in person or by mail at 49 South Van Ness Avenue, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94103. DBI is to respond to the Reports within 60 days to confirm whether additional information is required and to confirm dates for additional inspections and reports. Once a Report is approved, the owner/owner’s representative will be contacted to pick up the acceptance letter and pay the associated fees. Reports are not deemed complete until all associated fees have been paid.
For more about this program, property owners can visit DBI’s Façade inspection and maintenance program page.
Authored by Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP Attorney Jody Knight.
The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient. Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein. Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full service real estate law firm. We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law. We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.